Congratulations! Master’s degree in hand, you embark on the next chapter in your career—your clinical fellowship. You’ve been assigned a “remote” supervisor. Don’t worry! Working with a remote supervisor is similar to working with one onsite.
Taking these steps, however, will help you get the most from your remote supervisor.
Share your goals.
Share information about yourself. As a remote supervisor, I appreciate when clinical fellows send an email telling me where they’re from, a bit about their families and their hobbies. This virtual introduction provides the ideal place to include your professional goals. Share what you hope to take away from your clinical fellowship experience.
Determine contact methods.
After the initial introductions, discuss the best method of contact. Exchange cellphone numbers and confirm email, text or phone call as you and your supervisor’s preferences before scheduling observations. Also determine which method to use for last-minute cancellations or how to handle technical issues.
Loop in your onsite person.
Schedule a meeting with your onsite contact person, such as a clinical director. If you’re working in a school setting, put together an information packet for your supervisor:
- A copy of the district’s school-year calendar.
- Your school’s primary phone number.
- The email address and phone number of your onsite contact person.
- A phone number for the school’s technology contact person, if there is one.
- A consent form to send students’ parents/guardians allowing your supervisor to observe sessions.
Let your onsite contact know when your weekly meeting with your supervisor takes place. I always schedule 30 minutes directly following an observation to review the session, answer questions and brainstorm together.
Read the manual.
Read any brochure, email or manual provided. This includes information from your onsite contact person. Many times, answers to your questions are in the materials.
Do a dress rehearsal.
Perform a “dry run” for a video observation. This gives you a chance to set up computers and connections correctly, make sure you can hear and see each other without freezing or lag times, and practice signing into the video-conferencing platform. This step is critical for conducting successful observations!
Get a visual.
During the dress rehearsal, check to see if your supervisor can see and hear you and your clients clearly. Plan where you will both sit and where to place the computer during various activities. After the dress rehearsal, think through logistics before each observed session.
Keep it confidential.
Maintain confidentiality when sending documents. If you need to share paperwork containing clients’ names, black out any identifying information before sending! This also includes information in emails.
Keep weekly documentation.
Document the hours you work each week in a spreadsheet and share it with your supervisor. Reviewing, signing and dating the “Skills Inventory” form normally requires you to mail the form back-and-forth and risking postal mishap. Instead, I complete my sections, and sign and date the form after each 12-week segment. At the end of the clinical fellowship, I mail a form to each person.
The best advice I can offer clinical fellows involves keeping to these seemingly simple steps: establish and maintain open communication with your supervisor, read all literature provided, schedule weekly reviews as closely as possible to observations, meet promptly at scheduled times, maintain confidentiality, and complete all necessary documentation.
Tracy Sippl, MS CCC-SLP, is a telepractitioner, telepractice consultant, and clinical fellowship supervisor at Advanced. She is also on the coordinating committee for ASHA Special Interest Group 18, Telepractice. firstname.lastname@example.org.